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  1. #1
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    Questions for those in Anchorage......

    My wife and I are looking to escape the oppressive heat and humidity of the southeast for a much cooler climate. We've been looking at cities in Montana, Washington, and Maine, and a few other northern states, but Alaska has a VERY strong appeal to us, especially the Anchorage area.

    We currently live in the Atlanta area, where my wife teaches school and I'm a civil engineer. My wife found out that the Anchorage school system is actively recruiting teachers in her specialty (health), and are paying very good salaries for her position and education (she has a master's and her specialty certificate). So money won't be a problem for us if we move.

    Can any of you tell me about the riding around Anchorage? I've been to the Arctic Bicycle Club's site and Anchorage looks like it will have a ton of opprtunities for riding and racing. I currently race road and cyclocross, while doing recreational MTB, but wouldn't mind racing some XC this year as well. How possible is it to sneak in some training miles on the MTB on the roads/trails around Anchorage in the winter? Or is it best to stick to trainer rides and XC skiing for the outdoors fun?

    Any help and information you guys can share on Anchorage would be greatly appreciated from my end.
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  2. #2
    We want... a shrubbery!
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    Haha, what a coincidence... I'm from Virginia and getting ready to finish up my final semester at UVA and I'm going to move up to Anchorage after I graduate; I too want to get away from the heat and humidity, and I've been sold on Anchorage--I actually just returned from a 10 day trip to Anchorage two days ago, and I had a blast (which btw, I saw a couple people riding on the Westchester (I think that's the correct spelling) lagoon as I was skating, which tires were you using? Haha, I had to explain to some people that riding with studs wasn't that unsafe...) Ok, back on topic, I don't know too much about the particulars of riding around Anchorage, but from a person who loves to bike and will be moving up there, I'm under the impression that there are plenty of opportunities for riding--I come from what I would consider a pretty good riding area of Charlottesville, VA and I think Anchorage will easily match and beat the riding opportunities here.

    As for the school system, the family that I've stayed with a couple times over the past few years, the wife is a counselor at one of the schools, and there are some issues with the teacher's unions and the schools--from what I understand, teachers haven't been treated that well... but then again, your wife sounds well-educated so maybe they'll treat her better. Anyways, I'm no expert, but I know the teacher's union voted to strike while I was up there...

    As for you, Civils are in need up there--there's not enough people to do the work, so you can afford to shop around for employment and for better salary/benefits. Although, I may be mistaken, but I believe to be certified in AK, you need to have some sort of Arctic engineering course...

    Anyways, you planning on driving up? I'll be leaving in the beginning of June, and I'm interested in seeing if you have any sort of route figured out (seeing as you're coming from the East Coast as well...)
    waaahoooooooooooooooooo

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  3. #3
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    Good MTB trails, Lousy Roads

    Alfred,

    the mountain biking here is quite good winter and summer. There are a number of good epic rides within a couple of hours and numerous trails locally. The better known trails are marked and of the double track variety for the most part, but there are also numerous "local knowledge" gnarly single tracks all over town. One thing we don't have is a network of mining/logging roads as they do out west so, IMHO Anchorage riding is very good, but not great compared to some other spots. On the other hand, Anchorage offers a unique combination of social amenities next to great outdoors. We also have world class xc skiing all over town and the backcountry skiing is fantastic as well. So, lifestyle-wise, it is hard to beat living here if you like the great outdoors and have the right toys (summer bikes, winter bikes, skis, skates, running shoes etc.). The road biking is pretty limited in scope & quality compared to many places, though there is a group of hard core roadies that enjoy it. The main roads are ok in the shoulder season but have high traffic, lots of motor homes and marginally qualified drivers from June 1- Sep 1 or so. There is some good riding in the Mat-Su Valley (an hour away) but the local road choices are pretty slim overall. So, don't move here for the road riding before you check it out. If you are truly serious about moving here I know one firm that is expanding and looking for civil engineers - send me a private email if interested.
    Last edited by Stroganof; 12-27-2006 at 11:31 AM.

  4. #4
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    If you have been riding road in north Georgia, you will be disappointed in achorage. Besides racing, there is no good road riding in Alaska. There aren't endless rural roads like you can find in the Southeast. But besides the lack of good road riding, the mountain biking is far better than in the Southeast. In the summer in Anchorage, I pretty much only ride my mountain bike, and break out the road bike for races which happen up to twice per week.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    So, I have been offered a job with the Municpality of Anchorage. I am currently waiting for a response regarding questions I had about when the job start ect... from them. However, I have a few question for the people that actually live there or have lived there.

    Is it possible to live car-free or at least car-lite during the winter season?

    Can you actually use the trail/mup system to get to the Midtown area (Bragaw Street) in the winter? If yes, what mode of transporation would you use (ski, pugsley, foot)?

    How reliable is the PeopleMover system? What percentage of the population actually uses this system? If I ride my bike (pugsley in the winter) or crosscountry ski to a bus stop are the buses set up to handle my equipment (bike rack)?

    Do the schools use their own transportation system or do most kids walk or are driven to school?

    Thanks for any of your help, we might be getting together for some riding soon.
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  6. #6
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    Is it possible to live car-free or at least car-lite during the winter season?
    Can you actually use the trail/mup system to get to the Midtown area (Bragaw Street) in the winter? If yes, what mode of transporation would you use (ski, pugsley, foot)?
    Yes but depends on how far you are willing to ride and how feel about riding in arctic conditions that change from day to day. When it's cold and fast, it's wonderful, but when we get a fresh dump....ugh...the morning commute becomes an adventure. You can get pretty much anywhere in Anchorage using the bike trail system but sooner or later you'll end up on the roads for at least a portion of your commute. I know there are people who ride their bike everyday (myself counted) and I believe there are some that commute in and around mid-town. They would be better qualified to describe those conditions. Don't see too many people skiing to work.
    How reliable is the PeopleMover system? What percentage of the population actually uses this system? If I ride my bike (pugsley in the winter) or crosscountry ski to a bus stop are the buses set up to handle my equipment (bike rack)?
    Haven't really used it so I can't comment on the reliability, but I can say that at least some of the buses do have bike racks on the front of them.

    Not being a roadie, I maybe I just don't understand the difference, but aren't all the bike trails better, if not just as good as, riding on the actual road. You can link them up for some pretty significant mileage.

  7. #7
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    Car-? People Mover?

    First, congrats on the job offer!! This is a great place to live, work & play.

    Anchorage is big and sprawling and the bus service does not even cover it all all. If you will be working downtown, and you live downtown, you can avoid using a car most of the time and can walk/ride for groceries, entertainment and to/from work. That said, there a many parts of Anchorage that are not very conducive to riding to & from work either because you "just can't get there from here" very safely - or you would spend 2-3 hours a day commuting (up on the hillside it is 14 miles one-way to downtown and up to 1,600 feet in elevation). The bus service probably seems good if you don't have a car, but it tends to take 2-4 times as long to get anywhere as does driving. The system is not as robust, refined or efficient as it is in most big cities. Much of south Anchorage is either ill served or not served at all. Anything on the upper hillside - fuggettaboudit. Some routes are probably better than others, but overall I'd guess that in most parts of town you would be faster riding your bike than you would a bus.

    More generally, you would miss a lot of great opportunites if you have no car at all. There are numerous spectacular venues for riding, track skiing, snowshoeing, tele skiiing, hiking etc. etc. that are 20 - 30 minutes from downtown and lots of other places to play 1-4 hours from downtown. If you are totally carless you will miss a lot of what the area has to offer

  8. #8
    i drink shower water
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    i fled Anchorage for Colorado when i started college. this pretty sums up my view on Alaska...

    1. There is no better place in the world than Alaska in the Summer Time, Absolutely pricelss.

    2. Anywhere in the world is better than Alaska in the winter time.

    Ideally i want to live in SC for winter and live in AK for summer.
    Prison is hard, everything else is easy

  9. #9
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    More generally, you would miss a lot of great opportunites if you have no car at all. There are numerous spectacular venues for riding, track skiing, snowshoeing, tele skiiing, hiking etc. etc. that are 20 - 30 minutes from downtown and lots of other places to play 1-4 hours from downtown. If you are totally carless you will miss a lot of what the area has to offer
    Good point Stroganof. I can't imagine missing those oppurtunities. So, I guess our goal would be to live car lite as possible when it comes to going to work and visiting the local pub. Which means we save car trips for emergencies and recreation oppurtunities. Currently we have two cars and could easily have one car.

    Our goal in Anchorage will be to live in the midtown or downtown area. Not being from the area however, we are concerned about which parts to avoid when shopping for a condo/townhome. We prefer quite areas where most residents are out of college and working professionals. I know in GA there are towns (UGA-Athens) and areas (Buckhead-Atlanta) where alot of late night partying goes on and accidently moving into a neighborhood like that would stress my wife and I out.

    But back to riding the bike around Anchorage in Winter.
    Thanks for the input Scary Larry. It give us a better understanding of how one deals with the daily snow situation.

    On average how many people would you say you see commuting by bike in the Winter?

    Thanks for your insight guys!
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  10. #10
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    car lite

    car lite is the way to go and very easy in Anchorage. My wife and I both work downtown so I just hitch a ride in with her when I don't feel like riding. I rarely drive my car, but ride in her car whenever needed. The trails and paths are great for commuting the biggest problem is waking up to a big snow dump. But the bike paths are cleared very fast and very well, so you might miss a few days commuting depending on how your bike is set up. If you ride a pugs you need never miss a day.

    There is a people mover stop right near my house but I have never even seen a bus there. It must come by at odd hours, not during the commuter hours that's for sure. Don't expect a bus system like a lower 48 city. Its marginal at best. But they do have bike racks on the busses.

    Don't know anything about the road riding. Winter biking is a must as our summer season can be very short. Life is a lot of fun up here. Its full of good people and good times, so come on up.

    Adam
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  11. #11
    Bill M
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    Winters in Alaska are great!!!

    Come on up if you like winter. To me that's what Alaska is all about.
    I live for the winters here in Alaska!!
    Summers are ok too, all the daylight keeps you going.The few roads we have are crowded with RV's and Motorhomes. There is some scary drivers in Alaska yearround.I am not a road rider, but the shoulders on roadways are often few and covered with sand and rocks from sanding during the winter months. The Fireweed 400 is a great road race here in Alaska, that is what I have heard.
    Well I don't commute, I live out in the boonies in Chickaloon. Anchorage is great for a city, lots of greenbelts and trails, Chugach State Park really closeby.
    The trails around here in the MatSu Valley are great! There are more trails here in the wintertime than in the summertime in Alaska. Tousands of miles of snowmachine routes and all the way to Nome, the only time when one can ride a bicycle all the way to Nome, 1100 miles of it.

    Kathi M.

  12. #12
    ThisseatmakemyA$$lookfat?
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    Anchorage is GREAT... the culture is different though... there's a lot of different people here. the since is kinda laid back. i hear of people that live here and then move to the lower 48, always come back to AK.... if you can handle the winters, then you can handle ANYTHING!!! if your an outdoors person, then there is no better place to be... but the shortest day in the winter, the sun goes down around 2:30-3:00pm. the day light last until 1-1:30pm in the summer. in the summer, you'll look outside 11-11:30pm, and with all the day light, you'll think it's 5pm in the afternoon... it's VERY hard to sleep in the summer.
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  13. #13
    i drink shower water
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    everyone says its hard to sleep in the summer.. all you gotta do is throw a blanket over your window! feels like jail btut it makes your room dark.
    Prison is hard, everything else is easy

  14. #14
    PM Me for Wood Fenders
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    ... and if we just ...

    ...feels like jail.....lol
    I've yet to go to AK, but let's just say I doubt anything can feel like jail. WOW after reading this string of posts I'll be in Anchorage as soon as the good Lord allows me.

  15. #15
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    Well, I'm gonna pull the trigger. The job offer from the Muni is just too good, and I need to get myself out of the southeast in the worst way and be someplace different. The shear amount of outdoor wonderland available in Anchorage and Alaska in general has a pull too strong for me to ignore.

    On to the details:
    My wife is a teacher, and is already interviewing with a VERY good private school and has an interview scheduled with the public school system next week. So her prospects of a job are excellent as well. So at least money won't be an issue for us.

    The Muni wants me to come out as soon as possible, so that means I'll have to fly out and just rent an apartment close to work while my wife stays back in GA and finishes out her school year and comes out in early June. So I'll have a couple of months where I'm all alone in a new place having to rely on my bikes, my feet, and the bus system to get where I need to go.


    I found a little 1 BR apartment less than a mile from work and shopping, so I think I can manage car free for a couple of months. At least I'll be doing it on the tail end of winter. My wife will ship me my bikes once I'm settled, maybe a week or so after getting here. But the homesickness worries me. New job, new city, new climate.

    If anybody's up for beers, good conversation, and brining some cheer into a stressful situation, I'm more than greatful.
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  16. #16
    ThisseatmakemyA$$lookfat?
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    are you use to the cold? we have had cold temps this pass week. it's been in the teens, but the wind chill has been -15 to -30 below duing the day... we were closed @ 6:00pm at hilltop ski area on thursday, and didn't open on friday due to the wind, and cold... today (saturday 03/04/07) was the first day it wasn't windy.
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